I had originally meant to just write a review of the Rye Rye album, but the topic outgrew that, so after a solid week of listening to Go! Pop! Bang!, I wanted to burn off some observations that wouldn’t fit into the Atlantic piece:
- Listening to it in a car without air conditioning in hundred-degree Phoenix weather (and in dress clothes, because I’m going down fighting) really brings out the uncompromising brutalism of many of the beats. (Checking Wikipedia and seeing Bangladesh listed as a producer was a head-smacking of-course moment.) I’ve used the term “furnace-blast synths” to describe RedOne’s standard sound for a long time, because I’m enough of a synaesthetic to maintain a deep internal correlation between the wearying jackhammer of summer hits and the wearying jackhammer of summer weather, and some of her more amelodic numbers (especially in the bonus tracks) started to feel more like bullying than partying.
- In the context of the album as currently constituted, “Boom Boom” is a magnificent highlight. I was skeptical when I first heard it, because I think I wanted Rye Rye to be the languorous nostalgist behind “Sunshine” and “Never Will Be Mine” forever, but “Boom Boom” plays the nostalgia card (all those 8-bit sounds! the Vengaboys interpolation!) while still being supremely fizzy and dancey pop. And as an old-school cartoon fan I’m never not going to be charmed to my core by ”you be Donald, I’ll be Daisy.”
- That said, it (like all her singles) have done absolutely nothing commercially, so the pair of ringers early in the tracklisting — “DNA” with Ke$ha-alike Porcelain Black and (ugh) RedOne, and “Crazy Bitch” with Akon — are necessary evils, and I’m enough of a partisan that I hope to hear them pouring out of the radio all summer long. The latter for preference, though; it’s more of a jaunty singalong than a forcefed rave, and Rye Rye and Akon complicate the title misogyny with excellent chemistry and smart verses.
- Rye Rye and her guests both pronounce her name homonymously with “rah rah,” which makes me think of cheerleader chants and is therefore unambiguously a Good Thing.
- Boy, M.I.A. sure is on this thing a lot. (Four guest spots, including bonus tracks; plus a quotation.) She’s used well, and I like M.I.A. just fine, though I haven’t listened to an album since Arular, but given that it’s her label it just seems a little tacky.
- The “R3hab Remix” of “Never Will Be Mine” is just godawful. I understand why the original’s a bonus track, since its feather-light production isn’t compatible at all with the banging album, but if you haven’t heard the remix, imagine someone aiming for Calvin Harris… and missing.
- Apparently the “Anything You Can Do” sample isn’t from the soundtrack to the film, but to the original stage production of Annie Get Your Gun. So that’s not Howard Keel, but Ray Middleton. Dime-a-dozen personality-free midcentury baritones, am I right?